Nalanda varsity to float global tender for constructing campus

Patna, June 2 (IANS) The newly-revived Nalanda International University will take a major step forward when it floats a global tender later this month for constructing its new campus spread over 446 acres of land at Rajgir, 95 km from here, an official said.

“A global tender will be floated in the third week of June for the construction of the university buildings after the governing body decided on this,” the official, who would not like to be identified, told IANS, adding: “The construction will begin as soon as possible.”

The campus is 12 km from the site where the original Nalanda University, an international centre for learning in Bihar in ancient times, once stood till the 12th century before it was razed by an invading Turkish army led by Bakhtiyar Khilji, a general of Qutbuddin Aibak. The university was established in the 5th century during the reign of the Gupta dynasty.

In the first phase, the university’s administrative and academic buildings, hostels, staff room and library would be constructed, followed by other important buildings in the second phase.

“Our target is to complete the construction of these buildings by September 2016,” the official said.

According to university officials, the construction of the entire university campus would be completed by 2020. The cental government has sanctioned Rs.2,700 crore for the university, to be spent over 10 years.

In 2013, Ahmedabad-based company Vastu Shilpa Consultants was roped in for designing the buildings. The architects have decided to use the desiccant enhanced evaporative (devap) air-cooling system for the buildings, a first in India.

The devap system works by using desiccants (a substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness in its vicinity) to remove moisture from air, as also evaporative technologies that cool by using up to 90 percent less energy than conventional means.

The buildings would be designed on the concept of “net zero” energy consumption. The university would generate its own energy through photovoltaics. It would also collect biomass from neighbouring villages to generate its own electricity and also harvest rainwater.

Nalanda University has attracted over 1,000 applications from around the world after its revival.

The first academic session began in September 2014 with 15 students – including five women – and 10 faculty members in a makeshift campus at the Buddhist pilgrim town of Rajgir.

The fully-residential university will eventually have seven schools for postgraduate and doctoral students, offering courses in science, philosophy and spirituality and social sciences.

The university is an initiative of the Indian government and 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) countries.

During his trip to Brunei in October 2013, then prime minister Manmohan Singh had inked agreements with seven EAS countries – Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Laos and Myanmar – that have pledged their commitment to the project.

China has committed $1 million for the project. An MoU was signed in this regard during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing in November 2013. Singapore pledged $5-6 million and Australia about AUS$1 million.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen the first chancellor of the university, resigned earlier this year, saying the NDA government wanted him out. Former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo has been named the new chancellor.

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